This is not the story, or topic, I wanted to open the week with. I was going to put off even looking at the topic until the end of the week, for just a cursory check-in, like last week.
I would have been happy not to speak of this story again. Ever.
That's how "alarmist" I am.
Well, so much for fond hopes.
Y'all do as you like.
For me, this news moves the currently-small outbreak in DRC from an occasional glance, to a regular visit, with both eyes on:
(WSJ) “This outbreak is still in the escalation phase,” said Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has staff working to stem the outbreak in Congo, neighboring countries and the Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization. “The key is identifying (patients’) contacts and getting people vaccinated.”
On Friday, the WHO said a doctor in the town of Oicha in Ituri province had become ill with Ebola and may have infected his wife. The cases are the first in “an area of high insecurity,” said Peter Salama, the WHO’s emergency response chief. “It really was the problem we were anticipating, and the problem at the same time that we were dreading,” he said.
Officials have identified 97 people in the town who may have been exposed and need to be vaccinated, but haven’t been able to reach them all due to security concerns, Dr. Salama said.
While Oicha itself isn’t under rebel control, it is surrounded almost entirely by territory controlled by the Allied Democratic Forces, Uganda’s Islamic dissidents that are one of the dozens of foreign and local armed groups operating in Congo’s gold and tin mining heartlands.
Large numbers of civilians have been killed around Oicha and aid workers, priests and government officials are being held hostage, Dr. Salama said. Health teams from the U.N. and Congo’s government managed to reach the town accompanied by military escorts, but staff from nongovernmental groups have been locked out.
Dr. Salama said the WHO expects at least one more wave of cases.That all is concerning, but they bury the real money quotes at the bottom of the article:
The 1.3 million people, including thousands of refugees, who live in the region have endured violent insurgencies dating back to the 1990s. But it is their first time experiencing an Ebola outbreak, stunning a rural population where many believe the virus is sent by evil spirits, aid officials say.
“Many can’t comprehend the idea of not being able to bury dead loved ones according to tradition,” said Hassan Coulibaly, a field director in eastern Congo for the International Rescue Committee. “We are trying to educate them, but the environment is hostile”So, just like with the ignorant tribal jackholes in West African nations in 2014, this is going to take months to try and get a handle on, not days nor even weeks, by which time it will multiply by several orders of magnitude, like it does, to hundreds and thousands of cases, even with a vaccine, and cross one or two international borders, and so on, and so on, and so on. And it's already off to the races now.
Last week, locals angered by health officials’ insisting they forego traditional burial practices, including washing bodies to avoid infection, burned down a health center in Mangina, the epicenter of the outbreak, pushing out medical personnel, according to the WHO. A local team administering vaccinations was also beaten up in Manbangu village, some 10 kilometers west of Mangina, while the IRC was forced to close down its health facility in the village of Mabalako following an attack from locals.
Grab your hats; here we go again.
And for comedy gold, the outbreak began in "Mangina".
You can't make this stuff up.
Next, we're going to see if international and national leadership has learned any effing thing at all from 2014, and if so, how much. Last I heard, Japan and ROK were pledging support to try and stamp this out ASAP; they get it. But this is going to take far more than that, including quite probably, a military mission to wade in and finally pacify the region, and squash the rebel militias holding sway five feet outside all the villages.
That won't be the French Foreign Legion, the Bundeswehr, the Paras, or the Dutch Marines, boys and girls. Everybody's going to look in one direction, seeing whether we dive in, or back away.
You heard it here first.
I leave it for the clever tier of thinkers to ponder what happens if we don't go;
then, what happens if we do;
and finally, if we decide we have to go in, what happens when an American military person contracts Ebola, whether it's a medical relief mission, or some grunt or Combat Barbie, trying to push guerrillas out of the afflicted area.
BONUS: And/or, brings it home with them. Because Murphy hates the military since ever.
There's always the common sense approach that will never happen.
Oh, and for double bonus points, it's an overwhelmingly Islamic guerrilla force.
Because, apparently, you can't just have a $#!^ sandwich, you have to order it with the delicious e. coli and c. dif. Special Sauce.
Because what we really need in this country is another jungle war, and a fresh war with Islam, on a continent that eats outsiders and spits them out, combined with an Ebola outbreak.
"Hey, Bernie, I've got this great script, it's Contagion meets Tears Of The Sun and Blackhawk Down. Brad, George, and Matt are already down to do it, Denzel is interested too, and Steven and Ridley are fighting over who gets to direct. It's gonna be yuuuuuuuuuge!!!!
What?? No, HELL no, we're gonna shoot it in Hawaii. I smell half a billion bucks net, baby!"
And some people think the universe doesn't have a sense of humor...?!
I totally feel ya, man. I do.